Manatee Springs Dive Plan

There are two diveable springs in Manatee Springs State Park, Catfish Hotel and Manatee Springs.

11650 N.W. 115th Street
Chiefland, Florida 32626

Phone Number:
(352) 493-6072

Opening hours:
Manatee Springs State Park is open from 8:00 am until sundown, 365 days a year. Diving hours are from 8am to 5pm. You MUST be in the water and starting your last dive of the day by 4pm, and OUT of the water by 5pm.

Driving directions from Dayo Scuba Dive Center:
Manatee Springs State Park is approximately 2.5 hours drive time from Dayo Scuba Dive Center.

· Leave the dive center and turn right (north) on Executive Dr toward Gay Rd
· Turn left at Gay Road, and then right onto N Orlando Ave/US-17-92
· Turn right at W Fairbanks Ave/FL-424A/FL-426, and continue to towards I-4, make a left to merge onto I-4 W
· Take exit 82A to merge onto FL-408 W Toll road
· Take the exit (you actually merge) onto FL-91/Florida's Turnpike toward Ocala, heading north.
· The turnpike merges with I-75 North in Wildwood.
· Take the US-27 N exit, Exit 354, towards Williston.
· Turn left onto US-27 N/FL-500 N. Continue to follow FL-500 N for 48.1 miles.
· Turn right onto US-19 N/N MAIN ST/US-27 ALT N/US-98 N/N Young Blvd. Continue to follow for 0.9 miles.
· Turn left onto FL-320/NW 19TH AVE. Continue to follow FL-320 for 5.9 miles, this leads toManatee Springs State Park.

Entry Fee:
Dive fees are $16.00 per person per day (as at Feb 2010). You must check in with your certification card at the main office. They will hold your card until you collect it after your dive.

If you wish to purchase a yearly pass (best value, as it can be used at ALL state parks in Florida), see the park ranger. This costs $60.00 + tax.

After you check in, follow the park road down to the main parking area; the springs are 200 feet down from the parking area.

Amenities available at Manatee Springs:
· Gear benches, racks and changing facilities
· Picnic tables, a grill and a pavilion
· Restrooms on site
· Showers for rinsing gear down by the water

Diving Manatee Springs:

* All divers must show proof of certification before diving (or be under the supervision of a diving instructor). Dive within your certification level.

* There are many sinkholes within the Manatee Springs State Park, open water diving is permitted in Manatee Springs and Catfish Hotel ONLY.

* Dive within your depth limitations, i.e. open water divers are restricted to a depth limit of 60 feet.

* It is the policy of the Florida Park Service (FPS) to prohibit open water divers from carrying lights or entering into the cave system.

* Solo diving not permitted in Manatee Springs State Park, if you do not have a buddy, you may not dive there.

Divers should gear up at their cars, on down on the gear benches at the waters edge. Take only the gear needed on the dive down to the spring itself. Lock all other gear and items in you car, as the park is not responsible for anything lost or stolen. All buddy teams will do a pre-dive check before entering the water and buddy checks before descending. Entry is via the steps, if the water level is low, do not attempt a giant stride off the steps. Water level can vary, watch for underlying rocks! Push aside the duckweed to see how deep the water is.

Maintain visual contact with your buddy or instructor at all times, and maintain proper buoyancy and to avoid silting the area. Flow from the spring in catfish hotel is extremely low, so anything silted up will remain in the water column for a long time. Always give right of way to exiting cavern and cave divers. Perform a safety stop at 15ft/3M after all dives.

Special notes

Be aware of divers on deco in the area. Do NOT touch any bottles that hanging from the lines on the steps, or at the entrance of the cavern. These are not treasure!, they are vitally important to exiting divers to complete their decompression.

Do NOT enter the cavern or cave unless certified to do so.

There are two springs open to open water divers.

Catfish Hotel:

Catfish Hotel sink is quite large, it drops off from a depth 15 feet around the end of the steps to 50 feet, after which you are in a cavern zone. DO NOT ENTER THE CAVERN UNLESS YOU ARE CERTIFIED TO DO SO. There are a bunch of fallen trees at the deeper section of the sink, which are cool to swim around, and there is a ledge cut into the wall at the 15 foot range which is pretty nice to check out. The bottom is a mix of rubble, sand and clay. There is virtually no flow in this spring.

Manatee Spring:

Manatee Spring and its run are on the eastern side of the Suwanee River. The spring pool measures 60 feet by 75 feet. The deepest depth of the spring pool is 25 feet, with a sandy bottom and submerged logs. A set of wooden steps leads down to the water. There is a large boil associated with this spring.

Warning: In the colder months when the manatees are in, divers are NOT permitted in the water at Manatee Springs.

There is an extensive mapped cave system in Manatee Springs, only divers with the appropriate training, certification and gear should enter the caverns and cave system.

What you can expect to see:
Wildlife you can expect to see when diving here are sunfish, catfish, small turtles and crayfish.


Do not harass the fish or turtles!

Water temperature and condition:

Water temperature in Manatee Springs is generally 72F year round. A 3mm wetsuit with hooded vest or thicker is recommended.

The sink is usually covered over in a thin layer of duckweed. This is completely harmless to divers, and is good for water quality! Duckweed stops algae from growing underneath in the water which would deteriorate the visibility.
Visibility ranges from 30-70+ feet.

Current weather conditions:
Click here for an update on current weather conditions at Manatee Springs

Emergency Procedures:
If anyone becomes low on air, signal your buddy with the appropriate hand signal and begin your ascent. In the rare and unusual case of an out of air situation, signal your buddy and commence sharing air. Maintain buoyancy and ascend slowly, remembering to breathe continuously.

In the event that you are separated from your buddy follow standard procedure: search for one min (remember to look up and around, and for bubbles also). If you are unable to find your buddy ascend and meet up on the surface. Your buddy should also be following these procedures.

If your buddy is not on the surface within three minutes, contact others in your group to find out if he or she has been seen/already exited the water. Air supply allowing, search the area where last seen. If the diver is not found, activate EMS.

Emergency Contact Information:
911 - This will activate EMS in the Chiefland area

DAN – 1-919-684-4326

Always call DAN after 911 in the case of a dive emergency which may require medical attention. DAN will refer you to the closest available Hyperbaric Chamber.

In case of a Diving emergency:
The closest Hyperbaric Chamber to Manatee Springs is at:

Shands Hospital at the University of Florida Hospital,
Gainesville, Florida 32610

DAN should be called in the case of ANY diving emergency!

Have a safe and enjoyable dive!